A Plant for January
On this windy winter’s day (which is fitting since dandelion corresponds to the wind element) we harvested some dandelion root. It was delightful to spend a little time this morning on the farm at Lawsons getting our hands into the rich dark soil. It’s not always possible for us to grow or forage all of our ingredients, and we take great care in sourcing anything we buy in. But when the plants are homegrown (credit to Danny) or found in their wild habitat, handpicked and prepared by us, the experience is alimental on another level.
In the UK it’s recommended to harvest dandelion roots from late fall through early spring, when the plants are dormant and store energy in their roots. Dandelion plants can be found for free pretty much everywhere, though be careful not to harvest near roadways or anywhere that could have been contaminated or sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.
We harvest then wash, slice, and dehydrate the roots until brittle. Once dry, we jar and store for teas, tinctures, essences, and cooking. Dandelion root is a secret ingredient in our famous ceremonial brownies. It adds depth of flavour (and a host of medicinal benefits) alike to coffee but without the caffeine.
Present on every continent apart from Antarctica, dandelion has been used medicinally by different indigenous cultures for millennia.
Dandelion is a powerful antioxidant, detoxifier, and liver tonic. The root contains the bitter compound ‘taraxacerin’ that increases the production of bile in the gallbladder, helping the liver to detoxify more efficiently.
Spiritually, dandelion is associated with breaking old habits, expanding consciousness and psychic awareness. Alike nettle, a great ally for ‘cultivating the warrior spirit within’ and protection. It can help us release and alchemise suppressed anger, detoxifying on emotional as well as physical levels.
We’re still herbal apprentices with much more to learn from the plants in the years to come, but we find that cultivating a direct relationship with a plant (there are many ways to do this) is one of the best ways to really feel the essence of their wisdom.
A powerful yet humble plant of transformation, we think dandelion is the perfect ‘herb’ to feature for January.
Thank you for sharing your magic and medicine, Dandelion.
(Illustration is ca. 1777 botanical illustration by William Kilburn, watercolour print, V&A Collection)
(We’d like to honour and acknowledge Emma Farrell of ‘Plant Consciousness’ who writes about dandelion in detail in her wonderful book Journeys with Plant Spirits, 2022, full list of medical references on the blog)
Cho SY,Park JY, Park EM, et al. Alternation of hepatic antioxidant enzyme activities and lipid profile in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats by supplementation of dandelion water extract. Clin Chim Acta. 2002;317(1-2):109-117.
Clare BA, Conroy RS, Spelman K. The diuretic effect in human subjects of an extract of Taraxacum officinale folium over a single day. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):929-34.
Davies MG, Kersey PJ. Contact allergy to yarrow and dandelion. Contact Dermatitis. 1986;14 (ISS 4):256-7.
Schutz K, Carle R, Schieber A. Taraxacum–a review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;107(3):313-23.